In a stunning reversal of form, New Zealand thrashed England in their opening one-day cricket international by six wickets with 20 overs to spare at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.
The win came just days after England thoroughly outplayed New Zealand in all departments in two Twenty20 matches.
New Zealand lost the toss but from then on won everything in a morale-boosting performance.
England, opting to bat first, were all out for 130 in the 50th over and New Zealand knocked off the target with the loss of four wickets in 30 overs.
Bolstered by the return of captain Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram, New Zealand showed no sign of the fragility evident when they spent the two shorter matches firmly on the back foot.
They started on Saturday by keeping England openers Alastair Cook and Phil Mustard pinned down — the first boundary from Mustard came only in the seventh over — and the run rate seldom rose above three.
After Chris Martin made the initial breakthrough, bowling Cook for 11 in the 10th over, wickets fell at regular intervals.
Martin bowled Ian bell for five, Oram bowled danger man Kevin Pietersen for six and Scott Styris bowled Mustard for 31 to have England 67-4 by the 22nd over.
England didn’t help their cause with three run-outs before off-spinner Jeetan Patel cleaned up the tail to finish with 2-14 while Martin and Styris both took 2-22.
While the England batsmen played as if the slow pitch held demons, Jesse Ryder and Brendon McCullum played three overs with caution and then launched into the run chase.
A six from Ryder and a four from McCullum lifted New Zealand to 18 without loss and they never dropped below four runs an over after that.
By the 12th over, they had hit seven boundaries, as many as England scored in their entire innings.
Ryder survived a chance on 21 when dropped by Graeme Swann at midwicket and added another 10 runs before being caught by substitute Luke Wright off the bowling of Stuart Broad for 31.
McCullum also received a second chance, dropped by a diving Mustard when on 27 and went on to make 42, at a run a ball, before giving Broad his second wicket when Mustard made amends by taking a fine legside catch.
New Zealand were then 83-2 in the 19th over and well in control as Jamie How and Ross Taylor stepped up the pace.
How was eventually dismissed for 28, with New Zealand nine runs short of victory and it was left to Taylor, not out 24, and Peter Fulton on one to take New Zealand across the line.
The second game in the five-match series is in Hamilton on Tuesday. — AFP